Spring Explorations

I actually suggested to friends the other day that there should be a special tax on visitors to Rome in April and early May.

The city is just too beautiful this time of year. Flowers bursting into bloom, bird songs, crisp mornings and warm midday sun, vibrant evenings, the energy of new exhibits planned over winter months, a host of cultural events, artichokes.… read more

Just Outside Rome: Hill Towns and Aqueducts

The countryside around Rome, while not quite as picturesque as Tuscany or Umbria, is rich with fascinating destinations for exploration — and eating.

This weekend I drove out to visit my friends Jenny and Umberto in Palestrina and was rewarded with an in-depth tour of one of the most densely layered towns in Lazio: from prehistoric settlements (now lost),  alleged Pelasgian roots evidenced by massive walls of opus poligonale,  and most importantly the imposing sanctuary of Fortuna, all of this built prior to year zero.… read more

Fuksas Nuvola unveiling

For years I have been following the vicissitudes of Massimiliano Fuksas’ EUR project, dubbed “the Cloud” and it has now officially been completed. Rather, it has been inaugurated, which in Italy is not always the same thing as completion. In fact, multiple inaugurations are common, getting maximum mileage out of any big project, which makes perfect sense.… read more

The New Old: Revealing Santa Maria Antiqua in the Roman Forum

Over a decade ago I first had the privilege of visiting the early Christian sanctuary tucked into a corner of the forum below the imposing cliff-like ruins of the imperial palaces. In addition to containing a rare collection of wall paintings spanning the 6th – late 8th centuries, this is an interesting example of adaptive reuse of a pagan structure into a church, made all the better by the fact that its burial under the Palatine hill in the 9th century effectively preserved it for a thousand years.… read more